Allergies are a common affliction in our lives. An allergic reaction occurs when a specific substance, called an allergen comes in contact with our skin, our lungs having breathed in the allergen or when we ingest the offending substance while eating. Many allergic reactions can be mild resulting in a minor skin rash or a case of a runny nose and watery eyes and allergic reactions can be severe life threatening experiences.
It is not clear why some people can be allergic to some materials and other people not but it is believed that genetics plays a role as well as prior exposure to the allergen. As mentioned allergic reaction symptoms vary. Seasonal allergies that are allergies to grass, pollen and mould cause symptoms similar to that of the common cold. Other allergic symptoms may result in skin swellings (hives) that commonly itch like multiple mosquito bites. More severe symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, a drop in blood pressure and unconsciousness. It is also important to realize that any side effect of a given drug or material is not necessarily an allergic reaction- it is a side effect and with some modifications that material or drug can still be used safely and comfortably.
Fortunately in a dental office most patients who have allergies to a particular substance are already aware of what materials they need to avoid. Therefore it is very important to tell the Dentist and the dental staff clearly to what they are allergic. Since allergies are often have a family history it can be helpful to mention this as well.
Some materials in a dental office have been found to cause allergic reactions in certain people and the more common ones are:
Latex. Latex is the rubbery material found in many medical gloves and certain plastics.
Medicines. Allergies to certain local anesthetics and to certain ingredients that accompany the anesthetics.
Nickel. This metal is found in certain orthodontic braces parts and in crowns or caps that have a low gold content.
It is important to realize that for the vast majority of materials and medicines there are safe alternatives that ultimately will accomplish the same goals as the originally considered materials. In summary, communicate with the dentist and staff if you have had allergic reactions in the past and if you are not feeling well after a procedure, even a simple professional tooth cleaning, and even if the concerns are hours after one’s appointment.
We are dedicated to your safety and comfort.
David Silberman DDS FAGD
General, Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontics, for Adults and Children